Friends FIRST!

Adrian Brody and Halle Berry at the Oscars

OK, maybe this isn't you. But maybe you FEEL it is!

This is a special edition of Advice for the Friendlorn. Frankly, I’ve been waiting for this. I hope I give you an answer that suits your needs.

Dear Doc,

I think I may be falling in love with my best friend. And I’m so afraid that if I allow this, I’ll risk losing everything. You’re acting like you know something about this. Tell me what I need to do.


Dear Brenda,

Minor nitpick: I probably don’t know any more about friendship than anyone else. I am just willing to talk about it more than most.

Now, to the problem at hand. Brenda, no matter what you do, friendship must come first. And I can tell you why.

  • Your friends are the ones who will stick by you when times are hard.
  • The people who are happiest in marriage in their “golden years” – those whose intimate relationships last the longest – are the people who consider their spouse their best friend.

You probably see what I’m trying to get at: friendship is the backbone of relationships that last a long time. This is true even of sexual relationships. But on the other hand, when I say “friends FIRST,” I’m talking about priority, not chronological order. Some folks start out in love and become good friends, others it’s the other way around. The backbone remains the same.

What we often see as “falling in love” is an attraction that MAY wear off after the fire burns brightest. (Notice I say “MAY.”) When we base a relationship on that, everything may just go right down the plughole when the fire burns down to embers.

But look: I’m also not talking about ignoring an attraction for someone else that you’re built to have. Sure, fine, by all means, fall in love. But never lose sight of the importance of friendship. Because even in love, not everything you do is romantic or sexual. Sometimes it’s just about getting along, day-to-day, maybe in the same room.

  • Sharpen your conversation skills, in particular pay attention to “active listening.”
  • Learn what your special someone (SS) likes. Keep a list on file, for gifts for special, and ordinary, occasions.
  • Get to know your SS’s friends. If you can. The better you deal with them, the less likely your SS will one day choose between them and you.
  • Don’t assume you know the future. Even with your best efforts, the love of your SS may not last. But the love of your friend can survive.

Fear not, Brenda. But listen carefully: real love is not something we fall into, as though we slipped on a banana peel. Real love is work. Get ready for hard work. Good luck! 🙂

[Got a question for Dr. Ron? He can be reached via e-mail at]


~ by Ron Graham on January 9, 2011.

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